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The big list of winter weather tips

The big list of winter weather tips (MGN/John Talbot / CC BY 2.0)

With some nasty winter weather rearing its ugly head across our area in the coming days, we want to make sure that everyone is prepared to handle the cold. The WPDE team has put together some winter weather tips and tricks to keep in mind when combating the cold.

Fire Safety

With the recent below freezing temperatures, and the threat of winter weather predicted in the next 48 hours, Horry County Fire Rescue stresses you consider the following fire safety tips for the safety of you and your family.

•If you still have a live Christmas tree in your home, remove the tree immediately

•If you are utilizing Electric Space Heaters in your home, please utilize the following safety tips:

  • Always maintain three-feet of clearance in every direction between space heaters of any combustibles, to include chairs, couches, beds, curtains or other furniture
  • Always plug space heaters directly into wall sockets, NEVER plug a space heater into any type or size of an extension cord
  • Always cut off and unplug space heaters before leaving your home or going to bed

•Ensure that fireplace ashes are properly disposed of in a metal container outside of the home and covered with a layer of water. NEVER dispose of ashes in a paper bag or cardboard box, and never place discarded ashes in a utility room, garage, or on a deck

•If utilizing a Kerosene Heater, please consider the following safety tips:

  • Always ensure you are using Kerosene to refuel the heater
  • NEVER utilize diesel fuel, gasoline, or any other flammable liquids
  • Never refuel the heater while it is burning, and always store the fuel outside

•Never utilize appliances or devices to heat your home which were not designed as a heater. Examples of these items can include:

  • Charcoal or gas grills
  • Turkey fryer burner assemblies
  • Your homes oven or cook top burners
  • Propane devices
  • Anything which has an open flame

•Ensure your home has properly operating smoke alarms in each sleeping area, as well as the living room area of the home.

•Ensure you and your family have developed and practiced a Home Escape Plan, to include two exits from each room, and a meeting place everyone knows about.

•In the event of frozen pipes, never use a device with an open flame in an attempt to thaw out the frozen pipes. Leaving a faucet to drip or trickle can assist in preventing pipes from freezing

You can request Horry County Fire Rescue to install a Free Smoke Alarm in your home at the following link: http://www.horrycountyfirerescue.com/smoke-alarm-request/


Driving Tips

Horry County Emergency Management Department encourages citizens to drive safely during rainy conditions:

•First and foremost: slow down!

•Stay toward the middle lanes - water tends to pool in the outside lanes.

•Maintain proper following distance (3 Second Rule). This needs to be increased in wet/icy conditions.

•Don't follow large trucks or busses too closely. The spray created by their large tires reduces your vision. Take care when passing them as well; if you must pass, do so quickly and safely.

•Be more alert when driving in wet or slippery conditions. Watch out for brake lights in front of you.


AAA offers additional tips for driving as well as preparing your vehicle:

• Avoid unnecessary travel. No one can drive well on ice. Listen to authorities’ recommendations and delay travel until road conditions improve.

• Accelerate, decelerate and turn slowly. Everything takes longer in icy conditions, so be sure to leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you – a following distance of 8-10 seconds.

• Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold braking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

• Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling.

• Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on icy roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. Avoid stopping while going up a hill.

• Don’t use cruise control. You may need to quickly reduce your speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be easily accomplished on slick roads when cruise control is engaged.

• To get out of a skid. Lightly take your foot off the brake or gas and try to regain traction. Always look and steer where you want to go.

• Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include an ice scraper, kitty litter or sand for traction, jumper cables, cell phone with a car charger, blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medications. Be sure to bundle up with a winter coat, boots, gloves and a hat in case you get stranded.

• If you become snow-bound. Stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you.

• Stay on major routes. If you must drive, stick to thoroughfares that have been plowed or treated and stay in the most recently cleared lane.

• Use extra caution on bridges and overpasses. They freeze because they are exposed to air on all of their surfaces.

• Fill up on windshield washer fluid. Salt brine and sand from treated roadways will build up on your windshield, so be sure to have enough washer fluid to keep it clear. Opt for windshield washer fluid with a low freezing point to help keep ice and snow from sticking to your windshield.

• Inspect tires to ensure drivability on winter roads. Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressure once a month before driving when tires are cold.

• Pull out of the garage when idling to heat up vehicle. Running a vehicle in an enclosed area can lead to CO poisoning.

• Avoid distractions. Power off or store your cell phone, turn down the music and focus on driving. Disconnect and Drive!

For more on driving , click here for our earlier story on essential winter weather driving tips.


Carbon Monoxide Saftey

In addition to winter weather, January also happens to be Nation Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Awareness Month. DHEC has some helpful tips to prevent you from falling victim to the "silent killer," carbon monoxide (CO.)

Prevent exposure by following these tips:

• Having your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.

• Installing a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911.

• Seeking prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.

• Not using a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window.

• Not running car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.

• Not burning anything in or using a stove or fireplace that isn't vented.

• Not heating your house with a gas oven.

In a release, DHEC warns that, "Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. It is an odorless and colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if inhaled."

Sources of CO poisoning include gas-powered generators, charcoal grills, propane stoves, and charcoal briquettes for both cooking and heating indoors, motor vehicles, fire, boats, and power washers and other gas powered tools.

General Tips

Horry County Emergency Management Division also urges everyone to continue proper precautions for cold weather such as:

•Remember the usual emergency supplies: a flashlight and batteries, a battery-powered radio, extra non-perishable food and water, extra medicines and baby items, and first-aid supplies.

•Freezing temperatures can burst water pipes in homes that lack heat or proper insulation. Wrap exposed pipes or take other measures to insulate them from the cold.

•Prepare a place indoors for pets. Move farm animals to shelters and have extra feed and water available.

•Residents are encouraged to check on elderly and at-risk neighbors and relatives due to the increased potential for power outages and cold temperatures.

•Use caution when walking in parking lots and on sidewalks.

•Travelers should not contact the airport but should check with airlines as flights may be delayed or canceled.

For more information on winter weather safety tips for your family and pets, please log onto the American Red Cross website at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm.

According to the City of Myrtle Beach, New Directions’ Street Reach on Osceola Street will provide emergency overnight shelter for people who have no other place to escape the cold, although alcohol or drug use will not be tolerated.

City of Myrtle Beach Public Information Officer, Mark Kruea, offered some general home and travel tips for extreme cold:

• Do not use an oven to heat your home.

• Use a sturdy fireplace screen on the fireplace and have your chimney cleaned and checked at least once a year.

• Have working smoke detectors in all bedrooms and on every level of your home.

• If traveling extended distances, pack a blanket and additional warm clothing.

Below-freezing weather for an extended period can mean plumbing problems for some homes. Turn off private irrigation systems during the cold snap and take time now to locate your water cut-off valve. These precautions may help keep pipes from freezing in extreme cold:

• Close crawl space vents.

• Disconnect the garden hose from the spigot and turn off irrigation systems.

• Insulate around outside spigots.

• Leave a light on in the utility room.

• Allow a trickle of water to run from a faucet.

In a Pinch

•Use a pool noodle to create a draft blocker at the door – good for people with lots of summer supplies and few winter accessories.

•Turn fan on low setting and make sure it’s spinning clockwise – hot air rises, so it’ll push the warm air back down – good for homes with high ceilings.

•Heat from the sun is free! Use an old or spare shower curtain to cover a big window, but keep the shades/blinds open. You can use thumb tacks to pin it up and block drafts. The warmth of the sun will warm up the inside, but keep the cold air outside.

•Bubble wrap also works as insulation.


As more tips come into the newsroom, we will add them to this story.


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